“We can never have enough of nature.”
― Henry David Thoreau,
Walden: Or, Life in the Woods
While we can’t all wander off into the woods and build a home for $28.12 on someone else’s land like Henry David Thoreau did, we can savor our time in the great outdoors. There’s nothing quite like fresh air and rugged earth as far as the eye can see, especially when our phones are turned off and put away.
Many of us are drawn to spend more time in the wilderness but aren’t entirely sure how to do it. The following will explore some of the items that outdoor enthusiasts typically have. Of course, every person is different, so your needs might reflect your unique interests. If you like nature journaling, include a journal. If you like taking photographs of bees, bring your camera and whatever lens it is people use to get so close without scaring the animals. Bring binoculars if you like spying on birds. Feel free to add or subtract any of the following items for your own personal preferences.
Humans have been using compasses for a long time. Why? Because they work. They don’t require a signal or a charged battery. They aren’t easily damaged like a cell phone or GPS device. They just do what they’re supposed to. If you’re prone to wandering in nature, you know all too well the call of the woods just off the path. A compass and a map (if you know how to use them) can keep you from getting hopelessly lost. Beyond that, compasses are lightweight and easy to keep on your person without slowing down the adventure.
2. A DECENT KNIFE
If you’ve spent any time bushcrafting or attempting to complete any sort of task in the wilderness, you know the value of a good knife. There are countless hunting knives available on the market and thousands of uses for them while you’re out and about in the bush. Knives can be carried on a belt or kept in a bag where they use up very little space.
3. PROPER FOOTWEAR
The type of footwear you’re going to need depends a lot on the terrain you’re looking to explore. In frigid, snowy climates, make sure you’ve got a really solid pair of waterproof boots that keep your toes warm. If you’re going to be scaling some rocky ledges or steep hillsides, look for hiking boots that have ankle support. If you’re going to be walking through water—get water-safe shoes that protect you from sharp rocks. Basically, think about where you’re going to go and research what type of footwear is best for that location. It’s important to remember that many diseases and parasites begin with mistreated feet. Pay special attention to wetness as feet left wet for too long can pose serious health risks. You might want to bring a spare pair of socks as well if you know your feet might get wet.
4. SOMETHING TO START A FIRE WITH
You never know when you’re going to need a little extra warmth or a way to cook something. Make sure that on every excursion, you have a lighter, matches, or flintstone with you—even if you don’t plan on using it. Of course, also be sure to look up if there are any fire bans in place before you head out. Forest fires have been started by hikers in the past, and unfortunately, they’ll probably be started by hikers in the future. Do your part and don’t use fire during droughts or especially dry, hot days.
5. SOMETHING TO KEEP THE SUN OF YOUR EYES
No matter where you’re going, it’s always a good idea to have something to protect your eyes from the sun (even if you’re going someplace cold and snowy or gray). Depending on what you find comfortable and your personal style, this could take the form of sunglasses or a hat. And for goodness sake, if you’re someone who burns easily, bring some sunscreen.
6. SOMETHING TO PROTECT YOUR ANIMAL FRIEND
Okay, this tip isn’t for everyone, but it’s of vital importance so we’re including it here. If you bring a pet, like your dog, out into the wilderness, you need to make sure that you’ve done everything you can to protect your buddy from ticks. While you’re at it, make sure you keep your pant legs tucked into your socks and take a second to look at a picture of a tick, so you’re prepared. Lyme disease is no joke.
The above information should help you make sure you’ve got what you need on your next wander through the bush. Of course, be sure to bring any medications or licenses you need for the activities you’re partaking in, and make sure at least one person knows where you’ve gone.